Detailed Osaka Itinerary: 2 Days
If you’re like me, when you start planning a day in a new city you put together a long list of places you want to see and things you want to do. Then you have to try to fit them into the amount of time you have spare. You also have to find out which attractions are close to each other to make the best use of your time. So, I’ve written this Osaka 2 Day Itinerary to help you make the most of your time in the city. Rather than just tell you all about the wonderful things to do in Osaka, I’ve set it out as a schedule which you can follow as is or adjust to suit yourself.
A Schedule for an Osaka 2 Day Itinerary
Here, you’ll find a schedule for your Osaka 2 Day Itinerary with details on how to get from place to place either using public transport or walking. You can always choose to hop in a taxi if you prefer but I’m a huge fan of using public transport. Especially in countries like Japan where it’s so easy and convenient. You get a chance to mix with the locals and see the city from a different perspective.
If you’d like a list of all the top attractions to do in Osaka so that you can plan your own Osaka 2 Day Itinerary then I have the answer for that too. Take a look at this earlier blog post on what to do in Osaka, Japan.
This Osaka Itinerary assumes you have 2 full days to explore the city. It may seem like quite a lot but we did it ourselves so it is perfectly possible. Of course, if you feel like you want to do a bit less or even a bit more then adjust accordingly.
Osaka 2 Day Itinerary: Day 1
- Buy a metro pass
- Umeda Sky Tower
- Food Street
- Shitennoji Temple
- Osaka Castle
- An evening in Dotonbori
Buy a metro pass
On this Osaka 2 day itinerary, we’ll make good use of the metro so start by buying a 1-day metro pass. You can buy these at the machines at any Osaka metro station. Put your money into the machine and then select your ticket type. Look for the Enjoy Eco Pass. These 1-day passes covers rides on the metro and bus for the whole day although in this itinerary we’ll only be using the metro. The pass costs 800 Yen which is approximately £6. If you buy one on the weekend it is even cheaper at 600 Yen.
Umeda Sky Tower
I recommend staying in the Dotonbori area of Osaka so I’m going to start with directions from Namba metro station. From here take the red subway line to Umeda and it is just 10 minutes walk to the Umeda Sky Tower. Head up the tower for fabulous views across the city and then explore the food street in the basement area.
9.30 am until 10.30 pm
1500 Yen (£11)
When you have finished at the tower, return to Umeda metro station and take the red subway to Tennoji station. Here you must change onto the purple subway line and take the train to Shitennoji-mae-Yuhigaoka.
Shitennjoi temple is one of the oldest in Japan and you can spend quite some time exploring the courtyard and pagoda. In addition, you can visit the nearby Gokuraku-Jodo Garden and Treasure House.
8.30 am to 4.30 pm (until 8pm on Fridays)
Closed on Tuesdays
Inner Courtyard and Temple: 300 Yen (£2.50)
Gokuraku-jodo Garden: 300 Yen (£2.50)
Treasure House: 500 Yen (£4)
Next, take the purple subway to Tanimachi 4-chrome Station. From here it is a short walk across the road to Osaka castle. You can walk around the castle grounds and view the castle for free. However, if you want to go into the inner gardens you do need to pay. I think it’s well worth it though. It’s particularly lovely here during the cherry blossom season but really it’s a beautiful part of Osaka at any time of year.
Castle Buildings and Garden: 9 am until 5 pm
Castle Building: 600 Yen (£4.50)
Gardens: 200 Yen (£1.50) except during the Cherry Blossom when it increases to 350 Yen (£2.50).
An evening in Dotonbori
Finish your day in Osaka by returning to the Dotonburi area. Take the purple subway to Tanimachi-9-chrome station and then change to the pink subway for a train back to Namba.
In the evening, Dotonbori offers an amazing array of restaurants and shops to explore. Also, take a walk along the canal and enjoy the bright lights of Osaka. You’ll find this a vibrant and busy area which is full of life. It’s a people-watching paradise and you’ll find everything from fast food and street food to more upscale restaurants.
Osaka 2 Day Itinerary: Day 2
- Ride on the bullet train
- Miyajima Island
- Hiroshima Peace Park
Ride on the Bullet Train
Japan is rightly famous for its train network which is held up to the world for its efficiency and speed. So no trip to Japan would be complete without a ride on the amazing bullet train.
Start by taking the red subway line from Namba to Shin-Osaka. Bullet trains often run from dedicated stations rather than the general stations. However, you can always tell if a station is dedicated to high-speed trains in Japan because its name starts with ‘Shin’. This indicates that the Shinkansen or bullet trains stop there. There are different types of Shinkansen, as you can see in my photos, but they’re all super fast and it’s a fabulous experience to travel in one.
We travelled in Japan using the rail pass and it is excellent value for money. If you are using the pass you just need to reserve your seat on the train you want to use. Otherwise, you can purchase a ticket at any train station and reserve your seat at the same time. It is wise to book a reserved seat ticket if you can. The trains do have unreserved carriages but they can get busy and you are not guaranteed a seat.
Take the train from Shin-Osaka to Hiroshima. There are regular trains and you can check the schedule here. We took an early morning train to allow plenty of time to explore. The journey takes approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours depending on the train so sit back and relax. Japanese trains are exceptionally punctual so expect to arrive at Hiroshima station within seconds of the scheduled arrival time.
Getting to Miyajima Island
Firstly, we are going to visit Miyajima Island. Officially called Itsukushima, it is more popularly known as Miyajima which means Shrine Island. To get there, take a train from Hiroshima Station to Miyajimaguchi Station. This takes approximately 25 min on the regional train. This will be on the JR Sanyo Line and if you have the Japanese railpass then it covers this too. Otherwise, you can buy a ticket at the station.
There are frequent trains and you need one with a final destination of Iwakuni. Get off the train at Miyajimaguchi. From here it is a few minutes walk down to the ferry terminal. Again, if you have the Japanese railpass the ferry is free but otherwise, buy your tickets at the small booth near the entrance.
Itsukushima Shrine and the Floating Torri Gate
It’s a fun but short 10-minute journey across to the island. Without a doubt, the most famous sight on Miyajima is the giant red Torri gate. When the tide comes in it appears to float on the water and is a truly impressive sight. It guards the entrance to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Itsukushima Shrine and is one of the tallest Torri gates in Japan at over 50 feet tall.
The distinctive red and white buildings of the shrine extend across the water so that they too, appear to be floating. You can view the buildings and the Torri gate for free but if you want to go inside then there is a fee.
6.30 am until 6 pm in summer
Closes at 5.30pm in January, February and November
Closes at 5pm in December
300 Yen (£2)
Next, you can spend some time exploring the many walking trails on the island. Paths meander through the trees, over ornate bridges and past waterfalls. It’s a very pleasant place for a stroll and surprisingly peaceful considering the number of tourists that visit here.
As you walk you’ll pass this beautiful pagoda and if you visit in spring you can enjoy the blossoms of the many cherry trees.
Cross small streams, wander through the woods and discover small temples and pagodas. Indeed, it’s a truly magical place.
You can hike to the top of Miyajima’s highest peak, Mount Misen, but I took the cable car. I love cable cars. Such a great way to get a view without any of the effort. The cable car system here is split into two. The first one takes you up the main peak and then a second smaller ropeway takes you across.
If you’re up for some more walking there are also some more trails on the mountain. Of course, they all come with fantastic views, as far as Hiroshima on a good day. You’ll also see some Buddhist structures and maybe even a deer or monkey.
Hiroshima Peace Park
Hiroshima is, of course, world-famous for the saddest of reasons. The first atomic bomb was dropped on this city on 6th August 1945. A visit to the Hiroshima Peace Park is a thought-provoking experience but in my opinion, something that shouldn’t be missed if you’re in the area.
Getting to the Peace Park
To get to the peace park, firstly retrace your steps to the ferry port and return to the mainland. Then take a train back to Hiroshima Station. This time, walk outside and look for tram number 2 or 6 to Genbaku-Domu mae station. A ticket costs approx 300 Yen (£2) and the trip takes about 15 minutes.
A-Dome Peace Memorial
The first thing you see as you walk into the Peace Park from the tram is the Atomic Dome. This was the building directly under where the bomb was detonated and for various reasons, mainly due to the blast trajectory, parts of the building, including its domed roof, survived and it has been kept as a memorial. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site and standing next to a physical survivor of the atomic blast is certainly an emotional experience.
Previously, this building was the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall and was built in 1915. The glass and steel structure was considered extremely innovative at the time as it followed a European rather than traditional Japanese design.
Subsequently, it was an important cultural and commercial centre for the city of Hiroshima. Here people could gather to carry out research, discuss commercial proposals, admire museum exhibits and artwork and also, to read the many books, newspapers and magazines about trade and design. However, during the Second World War, it was increasingly used for industrial promotions and eventually housed various government ministries.
Before the bomb was dropped this was a thriving political and commercial city. Of course, that is one of the reasons it was chosen as it was such a significant target. The Peace Garden seeks not only to memorialise the victims but also to advocate world peace. An annual peace ceremony is held here each year on 6th August.
Cenotaph for the Atomic Bomb Victims
As you walk through the park towards the museum you will see this distinctive stone arch. This is the Cenotaph for the A-bomb victims.
Under the arch, you can see a stone chest. This contains a list of over 220,000 names. Each one a victim who died as a result of the atomic blast. If you look at the photo below you can also see how strategically the cenotaph is positioned. So, as you look through the archway it frames the A-Dome Peace Memorial.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
Walk through the park towards the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. Inside, the focus is on the commemoration of those who died and the city is also actively involved in campaigning against nuclear weapons, which is perhaps not surprising. The museum has some information on the lead up to the bomb being dropped but the main focus is on the atomic blast itself and the devastating effect on the city. Of course, there is no denying the destruction caused and it is a sobering thought to stand by the memorial and see the place where the first atom bomb was dropped.
In the photo above you can see a scale model from the museum which shows the city of Hiroshima before the bombing. You can clearly see the Atomic Dome in the centre but look at the extent of the buildings and structures surrounding it. Then look at the photo of the second scale model below. In contrast, this one shows the city after the bomb was dropped. Although I already knew something of the destruction caused by the atom bomb, seeing it represented in this way was still shocking. While it is fascinating, seeing the complete and utter devastation of Hiroshima in this way is not easy to take in.
Today, Hiroshima is once more a thriving city. One which welcomes travellers and also hopes to educate them about the history of their city. The Peace Park is a peaceful, green oasis. A place to walk quietly and contemplate that history.
Then, spend some time exploring. There are many statues and memorials scattered throughout the park. You can also enjoy the many colourful flower beds, planted to lift the spirits and inspire hope for the future.
8 am until 6 pm in Summer.
Except in August when it opens until 7 pm.
Closes at 5pm from December to February.
200 Yen (£1.50)
Return to Osaka
When you have finished exploring the Peace Park make you way back to the tram stop near the Atomic Dome. Then take the tram back to the main station. Here you can join the locals as you purchase a bento box to enjoy on the journey home. Basically, the bento box is a Japanese traditional take-away meal. Much healthier than Western take-ways though. Instead, you’ll usually find rice, vegetables, possibly along with meat or fish depending on your choice. Since it’s been such a long day you’ll probably want to put your feet up or relax with a cold drink. However, if you’re still full of energy, the lights of Dotonbori make a great evening attraction.
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